Mar 27, 2019

UVa applications up and admissions offers down

Hours before Associate Dean of Admission Jeannine Lalonde (Dean J) posted her usual heads up to applicants that the University of Virginia was getting ready to post decisions, parents on College Confidential were speculating that Friday would be the day, “…first UVA game today at 3:00, what a great day to release.”

As if on cue, Dean J confirmed that applicants could expect to see one of three decisions—admitted, denied or waitlisted—sometime in the next few hours. And by 5:00, the wait was over.

Some reacted with hesitation. “My son doesn’t want to look at it—he is so nervous. He says he will look at it tomorrow. I left him alone.”

But others were gleeful. “I am blessed to have been accepted.”

And the joy spilled over to Twitter. “I am so thankful and excited to say that I have been accepted to my number1 school, the University of Virginia!” exclaimed Madison. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me in the fall.”

Sadly, the news wasn’t universally happy. Denied. UVA is my dream school, but I definitely wasn't expecting to get in because it's a reach for me. Congrats to everyone who got in!”

And a few parents offered a little advice. “Make sure and apply to a dozen schools fellow parents!”

To give the decisions context, Dean posted preliminary numbers for this year and recommended that admissions junkies with a real “need to know” could research numbers using a tool devised by the UVa assessment team for presenting data in Tableau.

But the simple comparison with 2018 is interesting enough. Last year at this time, UVa reported receiving a little over 37,000 applications (this number tends to jump around a little)—a significant increase from the previous year—and made initial offers to 9,849 students.

For this year’s class, the total number of applications soared to 40,869, with the number of in-state applicants increasing from 11,338 reported a year ago to 12,010 for the class of 2023.

The biggest contributing factor to the overall increase in applications, however, was the bump from out-of-state students who submitted 28,859 applications—up from 25,884 during 2017-2018.

Presumably considering factors related to yield (both in-state and out-of-state) and an unexpectedly large class from the year before, UVa decreased the total number of offers from 9,849 to 9,787.

But a large percentage of offers were already made by the time regular decision candidates were considered. Early action admits accounted for 6,550, or almost exactly two-thirds of total—something next year’s applicants might carefully consider.  And the overall admission rate decreased by 2.4% from last year to 24%.

For those who like to keep hope alive, 12% of students deferred from early action were admitted—down from 16.6% last year. And 13% of the regular decision applicants were offered spots on the wait list—again down from 28.6% last year.

For the record, according to information provided by UVa to the Common Data Set, 5,972 students were offered spots on the wait list in 2017-18, and 3,588 accepted the offer. Of those students, 13 were eventually admitted. The previous year (2016-17), 117 were taken from the wait list.

In any event, here are all the “unofficial” numbers released by the UVa admissions office:

Total number of applications: 40,869 (up from 37,182 last year)
Total number of VA applications: 12,010
Total number of out-of-state applications: 28,859

Overall offers:
Total VA offers:  4,331 or 36% of resident applications
Total out-of-state offers:  5,456 or 19% of nonresident applications 

Note that the offers of admission for nonresidents are higher because historic yield for nonresidents is generally lower than that for in-state student.

In a press release, UVa reports that offers to first-generation college students rose from 10% to 11.5%, and a record 40% identify as members of a minority group—an increase of 5% from last year.

“This is a remarkable class of admitted students in every way,” said Dean of Admission Gregory Roberts. “We are particularly pleased that so many of the students who received offers will be the first in their family to attend college. It’s an honor to welcome this talented and richly diverse group of scholars to UVA. We hope to see many on Grounds in the coming weeks for open house events as they make their college selection.”

And they present outstanding credentials. More than 90% of the admitted students were in the top tenth of their high school class, and their mean SAT score was 1438.

This year, UVa aims for a first-year class of about or 3,750—down from the 3,821 students enrolled in the class of 2022 (according to the Common Data Set). And it’s worth noting that all admitted students have until May 1 to accept their offers.

Mar 19, 2019

Independent Educational Consultants who are ethical, qualified and a credit to the profession

Recent controversies involving colleges, coaches and admissions are painful reminders of how important it is for families to vet individuals and services before agreeing to hire anyone to support the process of applying to college—including independent educational consultants (IECs).

It’s no secret that college advising is a rapidly-growing industry. With school counseling workloads reaching the breaking point and the application process becoming a hopeless tangle of shifting policies, middle class parents and students are increasingly reaching out for support. And as colleges have worked to “tilt” the playing field to their advantage, IECs have stepped in to level the field by providing information and demystifying the process.

According to IBISWorld, a business information and market research firm, over the past five years, the education consultants industry has grown by 4.1%. In the same timeframe, the number of businesses has grown by 8.0% and the number of employees has grown by 6.8%.

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a nonprofit representing independent educational consultants, estimates there are about 8000 individuals in the profession full time, as well as thousands more who “dabble”  or work part time. In fact, the IECA currently has about 2000 members—double the number from just five years ago.

Not only has membership in the organization grown exponentially, but IECA can point to the significant impact independent educational consultants have had on college search, accessibility and admission. For example, students working with an IECA member are more likely to attend private and out-of-state colleges/universities. But more importantly, IECs are active volunteers in their communities quietly assisting low-income families and schools—creating programs, helping individual students and supporting school counselors, to make college accessible to all. And working with professional organizations like IECA or the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), they make their voices heard when it comes to shaping programs and policies affecting college-bound students.

Basic facts speak loudly. The US Department of Education reports that public school counselors (including elementary and secondary) have responsibility for an average of 482 students—a caseload well above recommended levels. And NACAC finds that on average public school counselors spend only 21 percent of their time on postsecondary counseling.

In other words, there is a clear and compelling need for professional college advising services. But like any service-oriented industry, price and quality vary. It’s up to individual families to research and ask the hard questions to find an ethical and professional service that meets their needs. And at the end of the day, families should engage IECs who are

  1. Credentialed. Reputable consultants maintain memberships in organizations such as IECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), National College Advocacy Group (NCAG), NACAC or local NACAC affiliates—each of which sets individual membership requirements demanding years of specialized experience, education and training, and a firm commitment to continuing education.
  2. Ethical. As members of the above-mentioned organizations, IECs must adhere to NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP), which governs the actions of consultants in their relationships with students and families, schools and colleges, and with colleagues.
  3. Available. Consultants aren’t tied to a school, a school district, or a school calendar. They work with students in the immediate neighborhood or across the world thanks to readily available technology. Not surprisingly, consultants do much of their most important work over the summer months getting seniors ready for the admissions process, and many work long weekend and evening hours—after team practice or between dinner and homework.
  4. Responsive. It’s part of the business model. Consultants have to respond promptly to emails, phone calls and other forms of inquiry or they’re quickly out of business (see 15 below). Deadlines are everything in the world of college admissions and no one is more aware of time constraints and the need for immediacy than independent educational consultants.
  5. Knowledgeable. Consultants spend significant time visiting college campuses and attending professional workshops, conferences, or college fairs. It’s no secret that colleges have different personalities and management practices. But it’s virtually impossible to get a feel for these personalities or keep up with changes in programs and facilities without visiting on a regular basis. Yes, it’s expensive and time-consuming, but the best consultants devote as much as 20 percent of their time being the eyes and ears of the families they serve.
  6. Focused. One size seldom fits all, and IECs work hard to provide personal services tailored to meet the individual needs of students and their families. In fact, an increasing number of consulting practices are venturing into areas of specialization that include working with learning differences (LD), athletes, artistically talented students, or international families. There’s not a computer program or algorithm in the universe that could ever hope to successfully sort out the very human personalities, interests and needs IECs routinely encounter. And it’s often the personal interaction and specialized knowledge that succeed where Scattergrams fail.
  7. Up-to-date. Coalition. SlideRoom. Enrollment management. Predictive analytics. IECs work overtime keeping current on trends in the admissions industry.  As the industry moves toward greater reliance on technology to track students and make admissions decisions, it’s increasingly important for families to have professional guidance that can translate terminology and is dedicated to staying on top of technology as it relates to college admissions.
  8. Unbiased. Because they voluntarily agree to decline any and all offers of compensation from schools, programs or companies in exchange for placement or referral, IECs are able to maintain independence and offer truly unbiased opinions and recommendations. They are free to compare and contrast various educational opportunities and programs, so as to offer their families the best possible professional advice.
  9. Community-based. Most consultants work locally, with students in their surrounding communities. They are familiar with individual school district policies and the administrative quirks of local high schools. They know course sequences (which vary from district to district) and how to find classes or programs that may not be available within a student’s high school. Sometimes they know teachers and school counselors and can help students make course selections based on experience with a particular high school. While the internet is fine for some kinds of advising, the face-to-face mentoring services offered by IECs are often the most valued by students and their families.
  10. Objective. The best IECs work with a wide range of colleges offering a variety of opportunities. They aren’t impressed by rankings, and they aren’t in the business of “packaging” students to fit a particular rubric or standard. They objectively consider a student’s interests, skills, dreams and ambitions, while looking for colleges and programs that represent best “fit” for those students—academically, culturally and financially.
  11. Supportive. IECs provide the buffer between an increasingly stressful process and families trying to sort out the shifting sands of college admissions. Changes in policies and procedures together with unpredictable outcomes inevitably produce anxiety. IECs are sensitive to their role in the process and commit to helping reduce stress for students and their families. There are no “best” colleges—only “best fit” colleges.
  12. Connected. IECs seek out businesses and colleagues who provide additional services needed by college-bound high schools students and their families. They often know the best tutors in the hardest subjects and can recommend test prep companies with solid track records of success.
  13. Committed. The best consultants are committed to the idea of college access for all—regardless of background, race, or income. And most provide pro bono services to low-income families or they serve in volunteer programs designed to raise awareness of college and financial aid opportunities. Educational consultants support their communities and provide behind-the-scenes services most of which you’ll never read about in the popular press.
  14. Cost-effective. Mistakes in this business can be costly.  They can result in lost opportunities, wrong placements, wasted time or painful transfers. A quick cost/benefit analysis suggests that investing in a knowledgeable consultant at the front end of the admissions process can be a cost-effective means of increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes for the applicant, including overall satisfaction with college choice, greater possibility of on-time graduation and more viable financial aid options.
  15. Parent-recommended. Anyone in the consulting business will tell you no amount of marketing ever brings in as many clients as simple word-of-mouth. Informal surveys of IECs suggest that as many as 90 percent of families seeking college consulting services are referred by other families. The best consultants are well-known in the community and respected for the services they provide. It’s as simple as that.

Mar 15, 2019

Colleges still accepting applications for fall 2019

Clemson is still accepting applications for fall 2019.

Yes, it’s getting late. Most—not all—admissions decisions for fall 2019 have already been made and are in the process of being communicated.

But if you’re disappointed with the decisions you’ve received so far or if you want to continue exploring possibilities, take heart. There are literally hundreds of colleges across the country ready, willing and more than happy to consider additional applications for fall 2019.

In fact, a substantial number of wonderful schools located on stunningly beautiful campuses will consider applications from prospective undergrads well into August. And some of these schools still have scholarships to offer!

And note there are quite a few more that have extended their deadlines without publishing the fact or changing information contained on application platforms or websites.

But don’t delay. Even those colleges with “rolling” admissions eventually fill their seats. And if you need financial support, be aware that scholarships are often allocated on a first come, first serve basis or until the money runs out.

Still, if you’re looking or thinking about submitting additional applications, here are a few insider tips to jumpstart your research long before NACAC’s “space available” list comes out shortly after May 1:
  1. Common Application member institutions still open to new applicants may be found by going to the Common App website.  Click on the College Search tab. Indicate that you’re looking for Fall 2019 and complete the deadline box according to your interest. If you happen to be looking for colleges with deadlines on or after March 15, 2019, you will be rewarded with a list of about 490 institutions.
  2. The Universal College Application makes the search even easier. Simply go to go to this link and click on Fall 2019. Scan the Regular Decision column and find 21 colleges and universities still accepting new applications, including some that are not UCA members, but which are listed as a public service.
  3. The Coalition for Colleges has prepared a list of member college deadlines: . Eighteen Coalition members have deadlines on or after March 15.
  4. Using the College Board’s Big Future search engine, start by using the Type of School filter and select “4-year,” “private” and “public” (this eliminates for-profit institutions). Scan through the other filters and select your preferences for size, location, majors, etc. Click on “Close and see results.” Once results appear, go to the dropdown box labeled “Sort by:” (upper right) and click on “Application Deadline.”
    Caution: The list starts with “01-Jan,” goes through the calendar year.  At this point, you’d want to start reviewing the colleges with late-March deadlines, starting on about page 14.  Schools with “no deadline” are listed at the end. It’s a little confusing, and the information is only as good as what colleges tell the College Board.
Once you have a “starter” list of schools that may still be accepting applications, verify deadlines by visiting individual websites.

But if websites are unclear or you find conflicting information as to the current status of the process, contact admissions offices directly and simply ask.

You might be surprised to find many are more than happy to hear from you!